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Singapore's intellectual property chief to take top job at global agency

Daren Tang - IPOS - Wipo - EPA-EFE.jpg
If confirmed, Mr Tang will be the first Singaporean to assume a top role in a UN organisation.

SINGAPOREAN Daren Tang is set to helm the United Nations (UN) World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo).

The agency’s coordination committee nominated Mr Tang, who is chief executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) under the Ministry of Law (MinLaw), to be Wipo’s next director general.

He was selected from a slate which originally comprised 10 candidates, MinLaw and IPOS said in a statement on Thursday.

His nomination will have to be confirmed by the Wipo General Assembly when it convenes on May 7-8.

If confirmed, Mr Tang, 47, will be the fifth director general of the organisation, succeeding Australia’s Francis Gurry, and the first Singaporean to assume a top role in a UN organisation. He will then begin his six-year term from Oct 1.

Wipo is UN's specialised agency responsible for intellectual property (IP) services, policy, information and cooperation.

Speaking from Geneva, Mr Tang said: “The nomination process was a team effort across many government agencies, including IPOS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MinLaw, Ministry of Trade and Industry, our diplomatic missions around the world, non-resident ambassadors and special envoys, all of whom worked hard over many months to promote my candidature.”

“There were many well-qualified candidates who contested through a fair, open and transparent process, and this shows how important Wipo is to the global community,” he added.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated Mr Tang on Wednesday night, and noted that this is the first time a Singaporean has been nominated for a leadership position of a UN agency.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Health Edwin Tong said Wipo’s support when the Republic was still a young country in its formative years enabled Singapore to develop a strong IP regime.

He added that he is confident Mr Tang will serve Wipo’s interests well if his nomination is approved.

Mr Tang is no stranger to the Wipo community, having served as chairman to its standing committee on copyright and related rights since May 2017.

In Singapore, as head of IPOS, Mr Tang drove the transformation of the statutory board from an IP registry and regulator into an innovation agency helping to build the city-state’s future economy.

His term at IPOS saw major updates to Singapore’s IP Hub Masterplan, legislative and policy reforms to the IP regime and a scaling up of international engagement, MinLaw said. IPOS today has cooperation agreements with more than 70 regional and international partners.

Before he was appointed chief executive of IPOS, Mr Tang was the lead negotiator and legal counsel for Singapore in the IP chapters of several free trade agreements. He was also part of Singapore’s legal team that argued a major territorial dispute before the International Court of Justice.